Monday, August 05, 2013

5-Aug-13: Boys and their hobbies: the New York Times uncovers another little village

Morality-free NYTimes homage to would-be killers. How to explain
the role played by those who write the disgraceful paeans
to violence and hatred? 
How sentimental - or acceptable in terms of journalistic integrity - is it that a Jodi Rudoren article in the New York Times on Sunday ["In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand"] describes the deaths of "a man and his 1-year-old son who died" (in fact Asher Palmer and his son Yonatan) without saying the ring leader of the gang hurling the "stones" was convicted of murder? And that others from the same gang are on trial on similar charges?
Menuha Shvat, who has lived in a settlement near here since 1984, long ago lost count of the stones that have hit her car’s reinforced windows. “It’s crazy: I’m going to get pizza, and I’m driving through a war zone,” said Ms. Shvat, who knew a man and his 1-year-old son who died when their car flipped in 2011 after being pelted with stones on Road 60. “It’s a game that can kill.” [Sunday's NYTimes]
The killer is Wa'al Al-Araja. Understanding his story, which involves months of training, cement blocks, large rocks and fast-moving cars, is key to putting the morality tale of the "Abu Hashem boys" and their "hobby" into a grown-up context. Their little village of Beit Ummar, among other "little villages" so beloved of the NYT's editors, features regularly in the news in these parts [see this for instance]. The context is rarely bucolic.

It's a revealing article that says more about the cognitive warfare driving this sort of reporting than about the passions and dynamics of this ongoing war. When you think about how it must feel to have to drive regularly in the vicinity of such places (located just a few kilometers south of Jerusalem) and then take note of the sympathetic newspaper coverage (the music track of the embedded video clip is particularly evocative), it throws some sharp light on how lethal journalism works.

Here below is a scene from the real Beit Ummar, as distinct from the disingenuous confection served up yesterday by the editors of the NYTimes. Look closely and you can see the journalists are fully in the picture too, in both senses. Are they cause, effect, neither or both?


Woman and her baby driving through Beit Ummar experience first-hand encounter
with boys, their hobbies and the photojournalists of the world's major newspapers
We tweeted the NYT's writer this morning, saying: 
" Homage like this one to proud, would-be killers, vengeance-seeking "boys" of 17, raises issues of journalistic ethics, basic decency

1 comment:

Dave Bender said...

For what it's worth, I wrote this article (under a pen name) not too long ago about the symbosis between press shooters and stonethrowers, in this specific case, Silwan: http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2012/3/4/when-the-press-calls-for-war.html

Dave Bender: http://davebender.wix.com/davebrianbender